Littleleaf boxwood

A slow-growing foundation tree
Nancy Norris
Common name: Littleleaf box or boxwood, small-leaf boxwood
Latin name: Buxus microphylla
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-9 (4-10 with proper cultivation)
Cultural needs: Well drained, neutral or slightly acidic soil; sun or part shade
Plant size: 6" to 4' high and wide, depending on cultivar
Railroaders welcome bright-green miniatures and dwarfs from the group of littleleaf box or small-leaf boxwood trees. The smallest is Kingsville boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Kingsville’), with 1/2" to 1" new growth in one year and can easily be kept alongside a scale house as a foundation plant. Among the Japanese littleleaf-box varieties, one stands out—Buxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Morris Midget’. Richard Murray shaped his Morris Midget (pictured) asymmetrically, with a trunk cleaned of growth. When new shoots or leaves appear on the trunk, they can be rubbed off with a gloved hand. The wood is tough and the leathery “fragrant” leaves repel most pests. Evergreen leaves may dry out by winter wind, or sun may kill branches closest to the sun; but in Zones 4 and 5 this can be prevented with winter screens on the south side and adequate watering in the fall before the ground freezes. Some varieties turn bronze in winter; others stay green. Check each boxwood variety for its USDA Hardiness Zone and ask local nurseries for their recommendation. Easily pruned and propagated by cuttings, littleleaf boxwood can be brought indoors in winter as a houseplant.


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